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Ulster


  • Penalty goals: Pienaar (3), Jackson (2),
15 - 17

Saracens

  • Ashton (2), Botha,
    Conversions: Farrell,
  • European Rugby Champions Cup
  • Quarter Final
  • 5th Apr 2014
  • KO 18:30
  • Ground: Ravenhill, Belfast
  • Att: 18,000

Heineken Cup: Saracens scrape past 14-man Ulster at Ravenhill

By Joe Drabble - @SkySportsDrabs   Last updated: 5th April 2014  

Saracens Ulster Tommy Bowe

Tommy Bowe makes a break against Saracens

Saracens wing Chris Ashton after scoring his second try in Heineken Cup quarter final

Chris Ashton: Equalled the record number of tries in a Heineken Cup campaign

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Two tries from Chris Ashton propelled Saracens into the semi-finals of the Heineken Cup at the expense of 14-man Ulster, who were beaten 17-15 in front of a bumper Ravenhill crowd on Saturday night.

Ashton's eighth and ninth tries of the campaign saw Sarries eliminate Ulster from the competition in the last eight stage for a second successive year, as the Irish province were left to rue Jared Payne's costly dismissal in just the fourth minute of the match.

Payne was found guilty of taking Alex Goode out in the air - an incident which saw the England full-back depart on a stretcher - and left Ulster with a mountain to climb.

Saracens will now face Clermont Auvergne in the semi-finals at Twickenham.

It was to the home side's credit that it was hard to tell which side held the numerical advantage thereafter and despite over 30 phases of pressure in the dying stages, Ulster were unable to snatch a remarkable win.

The game looked over when Ashton collected Owen Farrell's crosskick to touch down for his second try in the 68th minute and put Sarries 17-9 in front.

But Ulster refused to lie down. Paddy Jackson slotted over two penalties to give the raucous home support renewed hope of a famous win, however Saracens held on to book a Twickenham semi-final with Clermont Auvergne.

Intent

The decisive moment came early in the contest when Payne collided with opposite number Goode in midair and referee Jerome Garces sent the Ulster full-back off on the advice of TMO Eric Gauzins.

Despite the nightmare start, Ulster opened the scoring through a Ruan Pienaar penalty on 15 minutes and the returning No 9 missed another shot at goal four minutes later.

Saracens struggled to settle but a slick piece of attacking play on 23 minutes saw Ashton latch on to a deft reverse pass from Charlie Hodgson, who replaced Duncan Taylor earlier in the game, and finish with a swallow dive in the corner.

Farrell uncharacteristically missed four kicks on the night and that allowed Pienaar, who missed two himself, to boot Ulster 9-5 up at the break.

Saracens showed plenty of intent after the interval and Mauritz Botha restored their lead with a try on 49 minutes after an initial break from Schalk Brits had opened up the 14 men of Ulster.

To compound Ulster's misery Pienaar left the field with an injury, although Farrell was off target with his conversion to keep the score at 10-9 in the visitors' favour.

Saracens were wasteful in attack all evening and despite Ashton being held up on the line, he was not to be denied just moments later as Farrell made amends for a poor night in front of the posts with a superb kick across field, which allowed Ashton to touch down for a record-equalling ninth try of the campaign.

Farrell nailed his hardest kick of the night from out wide and despite two Jackson penalties and a late onslaught, Sarried held on.

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Forthcoming European Rugby Champions Cup Fixtures
TimeFixture
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday 5th December
European Rugby Champions Cup
19:45Montpellier vs Bath
Saturday 6th December
13:00Sale vs Saracens
17:30Munster vs Clermont Auvergne
19:45Ulster vs Scarlets
13:00Benetton Treviso vs Northampton
15:15Ospreys vs Racing Metro 92
Sunday 7th December
13:00Castres vs Wasps
15:15Harlequins vs Leinster
17:30Leicester vs Toulon
15:15Toulouse vs Glasgow
Friday 12th December
19:45Bath vs Montpellier
Saturday 13th December
17:15Saracens vs Sale
19:45Leinster vs Harlequins
15:15Toulon vs Leicester
13:00Glasgow vs Toulouse
15:15Northampton vs Benetton Treviso
17:15Racing Metro 92 vs Ospreys
Sunday 14th December
15:15Clermont Auvergne vs Munster
13:00Wasps vs Castres
17:15Scarlets vs Ulster
Saturday 17th January
TBCSaracens vs Munster
TBCSale vs Clermont Auvergne
TBCHarlequins vs Wasps
TBCLeinster vs Castres
TBCLeicester vs Scarlets

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